I’m thinking about Sad Things. Not specific sad things, but Sad Things as a general part of people’s lives.
There’s a recently aired Korean drama that put this on my mind, called Monstar. If you watch K-dramas and have seen it, I’d love to hear your opinion–particularly of the ending, which has drawn mixed reactions. Without going into details, I’ll say that it was happy, but deeply shaded in sadness.
I’ve been looking for a metaphor to pin down my thoughts about Sad Things. The best–but not entirely satisfactory–I can find is this quote from the guy behind PostSecret, Frank Warren:
Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart.
My only qualm is that, in this case, our idea of secrets should be expanded. When we think of secrets, we tend to assume that someone is making an effort to hide something. But a secret might also just be “little-known information,” which the person carrying the “secret” makes no effort to hide.
Everyone (past a certain maturity level) knows that everyone has Sad Things. Whether they know that in their hearts is another matter (and a few levels up in maturity).
It’s not a complicated concept, but it takes a while to sink in. I feel very much like I am trying to grapple with an idea that many much smarter people thousands of years before me have already grappled with more successfully. Buddhists, for example.
What I’m trying to grasp lately is that people live with Sad Things. Every day. Even after the cause has passed, or the initial sadness has been overcome, Sad Things maintain their ability to make us sad all over again.
Moreover, sadness spirals; one moment I’m sad about leaving my cat at home with my hermit father, the next I’m bawling because nothing and nobody lives forever, and I can’t decide if I’d rather my dad died first, or my cat.
Then my cat offered me a very simple solution:
Happiness is not the balm of sadness. They’re not like fire and water, where one extinguishes or evaporates the other. Maybe Sad Things are like matter–never able to be destroyed, although it seems to me they can be created. Perhaps you could say they are handed down. Philip Larkin seems to think so:
Man hands on misery to man.
—-It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
—-And don’t have any kids yourself.
I’m not sure I’m buying this physics metaphor, either. That, and a bit of research tells me I don’t remember enough of 8th grade science to know what I’m talking about.
I’ll keep looking, though.